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Highlanders down Reds in Dunedin

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Ben Smith's Highlanders earned their first win of the Super Rugby season

Ben Smith's Highlanders earned their first win of the Super Rugby season

Ben Smith's Highlanders earned their first win of the Super Rugby season

The Highlanders picked up their first Super Rugby win of the season as they beat the Reds 20-13 in Dunedin on Friday.

Jamie Joseph's side were narrowly beaten by fierce rivals the Crusaders at the Forsyth Barr Stadium last weekend, but a second-half Waisake Naholo try and 12 points from the boot of debutant fly-half Marty Banks ensured their second home match of the season ended in victory.

The Reds, thumped 47-3 by the Brumbies in the opening round before beating the Western Force last weekend, earned a losing bonus point through Jake Schatz's 51st-minute try and eight points from James O'Connor.

Banks scored his first-ever Super Rugby points when he slotted a third-minute penalty after the Reds were whistled for a ruck infringement, but the scores were level on 10 minutes when O'Connor reciprocated as the Highlanders were penalised for illegal scrummaging.

Banks slotted a further two penalties before half-time as the Reds were again guilty of illegal rucking to ensure the Highlanders took a 9-3 lead into the interval.

Try-scoring opportunities were at a premium in the first half but, after fine scrummaging work by the Reds, Schatz crossed the line with 11 minutes of the second half gone and O'Connor added the conversion to put the visitors into the lead for the first time in the match.

Their lead lasted a matter of moments, however, as the Highlanders attacked from the restart and were rewarded with three points when the Reds strayed offside in defence.

The Highlanders notched their only try of the match in the 78th minute when Naholo showed good feet to get past Campbell Magnay and crash over in the corner.

The New Zealand side extended their lead to 20-10 when Hayden Parker, on for the impressive Banks, kicked his side's fifth penalty with two minutes to play.

O'Connor reduced the deficit to 20-13 with his second penalty at the death but it proved too little, too late as the Highlanders held on to.